Essays in the MTC?

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adrift
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Essays in the MTC?

Post by adrift » 12 Mar 2018, 05:54

We had a testimony meeting yesterday, which have always felt a little uncomfortable to me, but moreso during this time in my life. I listen to every word, trying to find inspiration and something good to take away. I'm trying so hard not to be cynical.

Anyway, a senior missionary stood and said that he knew and he had prayed in the sacred grove and knew with every fiber of his being that the first vision happened exactly like Joseph Smith said it did. He then said that everything hinges on that one thing. I wondered what he would feel if he knew about the different versions of the first vision- through many conversations with him, it's evident that he doesn't. He's very TBM and mainstream. Great guy and I love him, but we see things differently although he doesn't know that.

So my question is this: Do you think missionaries should learn about the essays in or before the MTC to be better prepared? I know that it could do harm finding it out that late but doesn't the truth matter? What if they ran across them in the mission field? I guess I'm thinking about it because I remember teaching so many things that I now know to be false or misleading as a missionary- defending the church with everything I had against what I thought were lies but now know better.

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dande48
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Re: Essays in the MTC?

Post by dande48 » 12 Mar 2018, 06:44

Two things I've come to realize about Religion:
1. It is not rational (based on logic).
2. It provides certainty, where otherwise there is none.

No religious belief was ever arrived at through reason; rather any logical reasoning is derived after the fact, in order to support the belief. I remember learning that there were "other versions" in Sunday School. Our teacher explained that they were further evidence that the First Vision really did happen, as the facts would've better aligned had it been made up. I didn't delve any deeper. Any time the issue was brought up on the mission, it was through lies told by anti-mormon literature, combined with Church history taken out of context.

We NEED certainty, in a very dark, confusing, ephemeral world. Religion provides that certainty, that we can get no other place. By having the missionaries "learn" the essays, I think, will either cement them further in Cognitive Dissonance, or shatter their faith. While I believe the truth is of the upmost importance (many thanks to by LDS upbringing), I think sharing the Essays with newly called missionaries will often do more harm than good.
Last edited by dande48 on 12 Mar 2018, 13:00, edited 1 time in total.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

AmyJ
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Re: Essays in the MTC?

Post by AmyJ » 12 Mar 2018, 06:49

Thanks for these thoughts.

I don't think that the missionaries should be taught the essays in the MTC. I think it should happen at home by the parents, or maybe in some youth situations. I don't think the 3 weeks is enough time to teach those principles meaningfully. If my daughters plan to serve missions, I will make sure that they have at least glanced over the issues and get a sense of what the response is for that very reason. I am not sure if I would recommend that they be taught by the mission presidents either.

I get the senior missionary TBM. I don't share his narrative, but trust that it has meaning to him.

We also had Fast and Testimony meeting yesterday. Because my 18 month old was fussy, has a cold, and is very vocal anyways - I did not get a whole lot out of it. DH bore his testimony - I was proud of him for doing so, but I honestly didn't hear a lot of it. We only stayed for Sacrament Meeting because the toddler's coughing and cold symptoms got worse and she needed a nap. But we got to spend quality time with our oldest daughter playing a board game, so I think we "traded up".

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DarkJedi
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Re: Essays in the MTC?

Post by DarkJedi » 12 Mar 2018, 07:25

My son was on his mission when the majority of the essays were published. In his mission the MP ended up having zone conferences specifically to address the essays because so many missionaries were unaware of things like Joseph Smith's polygamy, seer stones, etc. He held the meetings after several missionaries had brought up questions in personal interviews, some expressing crises of faith. I should note that my son's MP was on the more progressive side.

I do think the essays should be discussed in the MTC, as well as Sunday School, YM/YW, and practically every other meeting as well as home. The same goes for the different versions of the First Vision.

FWIW, I have been to the "sacred grove" many times, and I also believe Joseph. That said, I believe it was also a vision, as stated in its title. To my knowledge Joseph never claimed it to be anything else. Being a vision does not make it may less "real."
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Roy
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Re: Essays in the MTC?

Post by Roy » 12 Mar 2018, 12:42

dande48 wrote:
12 Mar 2018, 06:44
We NEED certainty, in a very dark, confusing, ephemeral world. Religion provides that certainty, that we can get no other place.
Yes! I used that certainty as a sword and shield. It made me brave.
DarkJedi wrote:
12 Mar 2018, 07:25
That said, I believe it was also a vision, as stated in its title. To my knowledge Joseph never claimed it to be anything else. Being a vision does not make it may less "real."
One interesting thing about the FC is to try to separate what JS said about himself from the narrative that has been promulgated about him from LDS leadership since that time. The first vision is a good example. JS clearly described it as a vision. It has been subsequently taught to be a visitation and proof of the separate personages of HF and Jesus. Colton Burpo (of "Heaven is for Real") saw in vision Jesus riding a rainbow horse - that does not necessarily mean that horses are rainbow colored in heaven.

Anyway, lest I get too far into the tangent, JS made some impressive claims. We have since made some additional claims and attributed them to JS. In hindsight, doing so has not really been fair to us OR JS.

As for teaching the Essays in the MTC. I sometimes wish that we had somewhere similar to a seminary or divinity school where our church leadership could be taught the church doctrine, positions, and history in a comprehensive and academic way. In this way the leadership could be well informed and decisions on curriculum and such might do a better job to cover some of the current weaknesses. As it is, I am currently left to wonder weather there are some in the highest positions in the church that are not well versed in these things (as in the example of Hans H. Mattsson). It is one of the pitfalls of a lay clergy.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

adrift
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Re: Essays in the MTC?

Post by adrift » 12 Mar 2018, 15:58

I guess all we can do is teach our own families and hope for the best. This past week I've been thinking about my life and choices I made with the understanding I had at the time. It's hard to think about all of the things I excused or chose to be ignorant about. I had such conviction, too! If I were to go back and talk to myself a few years ago, my former self would tell me that I'm not reading enough, praying sincerely, diligent in my home teaching, etc, etc. He would be incredulous and probably tsk tsk and shake his head. I was never like that about other people but have always been hard on myself.

The same Elder asked if I would go with him to visit a Hispanic family in town. I'm basically the only person who speaks Spanish around. I'm scared to go because I don't think I believe most of what he will say and he'll expect me to testify and have his back on it. I really don't want to hurt anyone's faith. I was mostly non-committal.

A few YM are preparing to leave and it's taken me back to that time in my life. Although I feel like everything has been turned upside down and it hurts to feel lied to, I do recognize that living life the way that I did until now has undoubtedly made me a better person. I also know that I wasn't in a place back then to learn some of what I've learned in the last couple of years. What a strange road I'm on.

Roy
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Re: Essays in the MTC?

Post by Roy » 12 Mar 2018, 16:33

One coping strategy that might provide some relief is to look at it as an anthropologist/outside observer. If you were visiting an isolated tribe in the Amazon, you would try to be respectful of their beliefs and customs even if you do not share them. You may even find meaning and beauty in how the tribe's beliefs, culture, and rituals contribute to their lives.

Our LDS tribe is experiencing challenges as it interacts with the outside world. It grapples with new information that contradicts the sacred stories. There are many parallels to the isolated tribe from the jungle.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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